There is nothing like finishing that first year of college. Taking in a new city, meeting new people, experiencing new things, and learning about yourself are as important as learning good study habits and engaging in the classroom. For rising sophomores, their first summer provides an opportunity to pause and look back at how far they have come.
Last semester, Economics and Political Science double major Harrison Eichelberger shared his first semester story. Now, with a full year under his belt, Eichelberger is headed back to his hometown of Elizabethtown, Pa. He plans to help his dad at work, along with taking summer courses.*
“It’s kind of nice to have a break from D.C. and reflect on the change that happened in my life this past year,” Eichelberger said.
Even though Eichelberger’s transition to AU was smooth because he got to know campus during the National Student Leadership Conference the year prior, he admits that it was not a stroll in the park.
“I mean, college can be rough at times, getting used to a completely new environment,” Eichelberger said. “You sometimes feel a little bit behind and everyone else knows what's going on but you.”
Like many first-year students, Eichelberger found being away from family a challenge. “I didn't realize how much I would miss having my family around since I don’t see them as much anymore,” Eichelberger said.
Eichelberger says his parents have found the change a little easier. “They're doing okay as empty-nesters,” Eichelberger said with a smile.
One of the most important parts of college is finding out what makes you happy and fulfilled. Eichelberger realized he enjoys his own company more than he originally believed. “It took me a while to adjust, and I realized how I am a little more introverted than I thought,” Eichelberger admitted. “In high school, I didn't realize that because I had free time to be by myself. When you're at college, you are surrounded by people all the time. I realized I do need that time for myself.”
Because of his introverted nature, one of Harrison’s favorite activities is exploring D.C. on his own. “I would go downtown with a cup of Starbucks and just walk around whenever I had free time,” Eichelberger said. “It was relaxing and a good way to clear my head.” For some students, taking electives that really interests them is another part of self-discovery. Having been a trumpet player for nine years, Eichelberger chose the course Understanding Music.
“When you play music, you don't know why music is the way it is. It is interesting to get the background,” Eichelberger said.
This year, Eichelberger also made a major decision about his post-AU life. Eichelberger initially wanted to pursue a career in politics. However, he decided to be more pragmatic in his career choice and is concentrating on economics.
“Right out of college, I'm just looking for a way to make a decent paycheck and have a comfortable existence,” Eichelberger said. “I realized I don't want to come out of college with no plan. I've definitely become a little more realistic in my expectations for my career.”
While Eichelberger has his sights set on his post-AU life, he still has his present AU career to finish. In the fall, Eichelberger hopes to take on leadership positions in student groups he is joined, along with becoming a tutor.
“I want to tutor for econ because I really enjoyed it, and I know a lot of people struggle with econ who aren't econ majors,” Eichelberger said. “It comes natural to me, so I'd really like to help people understand it better.”
Taking a step back to reflect, Eichelberger realized the significance of this first year. “It’s been nice to get away from Elizabethtown and get new experiences and meet new people,” Eichelberger said. “You get used to it as it becomes your new reality. For me it's become a better reality. So, it's really exciting.”
*Note: After this interview, Eichelberger's summer plans changed as he recieved a summer internship to work on a political campaign.